So I am back in the warm, smoggy confines of Santiago and find myself with a mountain of blog entries ahead of me.  Rather than work my way backward chronologically from the start to the finish, I’m just going to write about what’s most fresh in my mind – my recent 3 night, 5 day excursion to a wonderful archipelago in central / south Chile called Chiloé.

 

Chiloé was discovered by western explorers in 1588, and before then was inhabited by the native tribes of the Araucano.  The group of islands is dominated by one large island known as Chiloé grande which faces the open ocean on the west coast.  Off of the east coast of the main island there are about 20 islands that vary in size, with Quinchao being the largest of them.  The capitol city is Castro which is where we spent 2 of our 3 nights. 

So, it turns out that Chiloé is one of the more unique places in Chile and is nearly famous for its unique inhabitants, folklore, myths, and traditions.  We had been studying Chiloé in my folklore class for a while and it was pretty cool to know what “El Trauco” and “La Pincoya” were before even stepping foot on the island.  The people of Chiloé were the last people to give in to the Spanish conquistadors and I think that this sense of being independent from the rest of Chile has continued on and helped bolster the presence of unique folklore and quirky beliefs.

Anywho, we (our normal group minus Samantha) consisted of Nick, Ben, Anya, Lizzy and myself.  We parted from Santiago on a 13 hour night bus that took us into Puerto Montt, which is a pretty unremarkable town in my opinion.  Arriving somewhat groggy in the morning after a night spent in the semi-cama bus (much better than Clasico), we departed from Puerto Montt on a 3 or 4 hour bus ride to Castro, where we looked around in our guidebooks for a good hostel.  After checking out 3 options that all had ocean views, we compared prices, and did some talking down of prices and ended up at a comfortable hostel with great views and a nice, warm, living room with a fireplace and a balcony with a table and chairs that faced out over the sea. 

Our first meal in the city was, of course, at a seaside restaurant where we chowwed down on a ridiculous amount of curanto (a Chilote special sea food dish) and other seafood such as crab along with a bottle of wine.  A picture of curanto up close:

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The great thing about Chiloé is that it is a place designed for relaxation – there are always sea views and green rolling hills that calm one down, there are few other tourists, and all the towns are small enough to walk around on foot so there aren’t any buses or taxis or metro to get all worked up about.

We spent most of our nights with vague plans of going out and looking for a club or party even though all of us knew darn well that after the sun goes down at 6:30 there is nothing to do in Chiloé that involves partying or music.  Good friends and piscola is one of my favorite combinations, and Chiloé had plenty of that to offer. 

Our second day we went out to Cucao, a town on the western coast of the island that sits on the southern edge of the National Park of Chiloé and is just a 5 minute walk from the beach.  The beach is a dark sand wonderland that stretches 20 km up the coast.  One can hear the thunderous Pacific surf crashing against the windswept coastline.  On the way there, a friendly dog that we called Durak (the Russian word for idiot, which we learned in a drinking game the night before).  Durak followed us in and out of the national park and out to the beach and back into town – he was a constant source of entertainment and fun as he bounded ahead of the group, picking up sticks and rocks and wanting us to throw them out for him.  We lucked out and got some sun shine while we were out at the beach for a lunch time picnic.  We also spotted some blue jellyfish that had washed ashore.

IMG_3322Moss on a tree in the National Park of Chiloé

 

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Little plant on the beach

 

IMG_3364 Mysterious blue jellyfish

 

IMG_3362Our friend ‘Durak’ that followed us for 4 hours to 3 different places – in this picture he watches on as we eat a delicious lunch.

 

The second leg of our adventure brought us to the island of Dalcahue and the city of Achao, which are east of the main island.  There we saw the oldest surviving church in Chiloé, built in 1730 by Jesuits.  It’s made entirely of wood and is the darkest building in the whole town.  Also, we may have met a warlock on the streets at night and my good friend Nick may or may not have had a curse cast on him by this night time marauder, who with the power of his drunken mumblings, ensured that Nick will have a tough time unless he can get some help from our knowledgeable folklore professor.

We had hoped to get a boat ride around the bay at some point, but we realized after a couple tries that Achao is not a tourist city and none of these honest Chilote fisherman were about to show us the wondrous sea in their vessels.  So we had to be content with walking around the island and taking pictures of all the boats floating idly near the shore.

Well, that about wraps it up: you all should make sure to check out my PICASA WEB ALBUMS for more pictures of this and all of my other recent Chilean trip.  I’ll go through and put captions on most of the pictures for your enjoyment.

Chao,

Ian J

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